Lucas Roillet, the French founder of new watch company Deguiret, met Lia Meskhi and Nikoloz (Koka) Panchulidze in Tbilisi, Georgia. He was instantly drawn to the skills of these two enamelers who have mastered the art of cloisonné enamel, also known as minankari. This craft originated in Georgia in the 7th century but was then all but abandoned by the 15th century.
Enameling is the craft of decorating metal surfaces by fusing glass paste onto metal baked at high temperatures. Intricate designs can be created and the finish of the enamel can be translucent or opaque, depending on the temperature used to melt the glass. There are many styles of enameling and cloisonné is one of the most intriguing and vibrant.
Cloisonné, with its complex beauty, is a labour intensive craft that can’t be mechanized. Each pattern in either silver or gold, is painstakingly hand made by the enamel artist. First the artist must create partitions or sections made from fine metal wire to create the pattern. These sections are then filled with enamel powder and baked which transforms the powder into a perfectly smooth and vividly colorful surface with the patterns clearly delineated by the wire partitions. Meskhi and Panchulidze are among the contemporary jewellers and artists who over the past thirty years have contributed to the gradual revival of this ancient technique, playing an important role in making cloisonné enamel once again the pride of Georgia.
Roillet’s love for the beauty of the ancient Georgian craft of enameling and his passion for mechanical Swiss watchmaking, come together in these new watches. His encounter with the Georgian artists and Swiss artisans sparked the idea of combining the art of enameling and watchmaking in a unique way.
What is interesting about this new brand, beyond the watches themselves, is Roillet’s collaborative approach: he sees himself as a conductor and a synchroniser between the two worlds. He works very closely with Meskhi and Panchulidze, who both graduated from Tbilisi Academy of Arts and have been creating high jewelry for the past 15 years. He convinced them to try their art on a watch dial and gave them complete freedom. The result is very interesting like the traditional pattern by Panchulidze inspired by symmetry and nature or the poetic universe for Meskhi drawn by her love of travel and exploration.
For the watchmaking expertise, Roillet contacted a renowned manufacture based in the Swiss Jura and together they decided that a mechanical automatic self-winding caliber with a 59-hour power reserve and a stainless steel 42mm case would be the ‘cradle’ for the enameled dials.
These watches are the ‘babies’ of the brand and are ready to be adopted. They have a lifetime warranty and can be purchased by contacting Deguiret or emailing our concierge.
Beyond these first creations, in 2022 Deguiret is hoping to create two watches a month, reaching a maximum of 4 a month with a mix of themes suggested by the artists or commissioned by clients.
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